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April 28,2006 (FunFriday-9:10AM)

Everybody here is busy getting ready for our SpringOuting.  In our planning meeting we realized that because it was local, we had planned WAY too many activities for this outing and it would be impossible to get it all done in one weekend.  So we have decided to break up the SpringOuting into two weekends... these interns here at RainyDayMagazine have it SO tough :-)

Our home base for the SpringOuting will be the fabulous Onyx Hotel in Boston.  The Onyx is one of Boston's newly renovated luxury boutique hotels.  We chose the Onyx for its "in the middle of everything" location.

This weekend the "urban hikes" will be around the city of Boston (Freedom Trail, North End, etc...).  Next weekend the hikes will be around Boston's Emerald Necklace.

As with the WinterOuting, we have assembled a fantastic collection of gear which we'll put to the test over the next two weekends.

The gear for the 2006 SpringOuting are from the following vendors:

Even though it is the end of April, the weather here in Boston is still pretty chilly.  Normally, we would be wearing a jacket made with PolarTec or some other kind of fleece.  For this trip, we'll be trying a piece of gear from a small company called BeyondFleece.  You can't buy their jackets at your local EMS or CitySports.  They can only be ordered via the BeyondFleece website.

What you get is a custom-fitted jacket with exactly the options you want.  We have had this jacket for a few weeks and most of us have worn it around for various hops out of the office.  We have been EXTREMELY impressed with both the fit and the tailoring of this piece of gear! 

We'll be using the BioTrainer to track our energy expenditure during this outing.  Our goal is to start collecting data using this device to see if what we are calling "urban hiking" is as much of a workout as "real" hiking we do out in the country.

To transport all of our gear, we got some AMAZING bags from Tom Bihn.  The folks at Tom Bihn make some of the highest quality soft bags we have ever had the pleasure to use.  The designs are all unique to them.  They are functional, well engineered, AND great looking.

The weather this weekend in Boston is supposed to be in the high 50's but sunny.  To cut down on all the glare and reflection from Boston's skyscrapers, we'll be sporting mountaineering sunglasses from Julbo.  For those in the know, Julbos are the ones to have when venturing out...whether it is to the top of a mountain or Top Of the Hub.

When we went on the WinterOuting, we brought along the Magellan GPS to help us in the backcountry.  For navigating the streets of Boston, we will be loading the Magellan DirectRoute Street Maps on to our eXplorist 500.

To get everyone back to the hotel bar at the same time, we'll be taking along the Motorola RAZR.  It would also be a good opportunity to test out the cellular coverage of both Verizon and T-Mobile.

For the sights that are too distant from the hotel, we'll be bringing them closer with the Brunton ECHO field binoculars.  We'll probably get more use out of them next weekend on the Emerald Necklace hike for bird sightings, but we are going to bring them with us just in case...for celebrity sightings.


April 27,2006 (ToolsThursday-2:59AM)

RainyDayMagazine readers are no strangers to Dremel and its line of rotary tools.  Many of you have emailed us wanting to see more reviews on Dremel's XPR400 kit and the new cordless Stylus.  Both are versatile tools for craftsman and hobbyist alike.

In their constant efforts to increase the usefulness and flexibility of their product, Dremel has created a portable WorkStation for the rotary tool.

This attachment converts the rotary tool into a drill press as well as acting as a holder for the base unit and the flexible shaft.  We were going to make something similar as a RainyDayProject, but now we are going to have to come up with something else :-) 

We will review the Dremel WorkStation as soon as we get one in house.  Some readers have inquired about low noise dust management products.  We will be looking at some vacuuming and clean up options available on the market later in the year.  If you have something specific you would like to see reviewed, drop us a note...there might be a little something in it for you :-)

RotoZip is a tool that is similar to the Dremel ...but different.  It looks like a drill, but is actually a cutting tool.  RotoZip invented the "SpiralSaw" by combining the abililty of a drill and a jigsaw so it can cut by plunging vertically as well as moving horizontally.  This design allows the tool to maneuver and cut in very tight spaces.

Even though the RotoZip is designed for heavy duty uses such as home construction, masonry cutting, and auto body work, with the proper accessory such as the FlexShaft, it can be used for projects such as miniature model building, jewelry polishing, or engraving. We do not have one on hand yet, but if it is built like the other RotoZip components, we are certain it will be a quality part.

To power this tool, RotoZip has a quick charging high output battery system. Total charging time is just 30 minutes!

In order to tackle all of the different tasks (woodworking, drywall, masonry, etc...) and materials, RotoZip offers a large variety of cutting bits engineered specifically for this tool.

We will have a more complete look as part of the launch of a new section to RainyDayMagazine.

To plug in all the tools, most of us use an extension cord and a multi-outlet strip.  As we all know from experience, AC adapters do not fit very well on these strips due to their odd sizes.

PowerSentry's PowerSquid solved the problem ingeniously by eliminating the strip all together :-)  The outlet can accommodate five different devices regardless of their shape.  A master switch at the "head" controls the flow to everything down stream.  Once you have used one, you will never go back to the strip-style outlets again.

In June, we will launch a new section call RainyDayRenovations.  The section is still a work in progress, but we thought you might like to preview the progress.  It will be fully populated by June. 

This section will focus on tools like the Dremel, RotoZip, and other products useful for working on projects around the house.  We have been following and documenting the renovation of a house in Somerville MA for the past six months.  The owners have graciously agreed to share their stories with us.  We think this is going to be an exciting section.  We hope you will agree!


April 26,2006 (WowUsWednesday-10:22AM)

Most folks don't need a bus-size SUVs like the hulking Dodge Rampage we saw at the NY Auto Show.  Most want transportation options which makes sense.

A little over a year ago we did a quick blurb on the Zap SmartCar.  At that time, the price of gas was about half of what they are today.  Daimler Chrysler at that time saw no good business reasons to bring these cars in to the States.  The smart folks at Zap saw the future and decided to import these cars on their own.

The upward pressure of gas prices has caused management at Daimler Chrysler to revisit this missed opportunity.  Ahh, the benefits of 20/20 of hindsight.   Look for a decision some time this May. The guys in Detroit need to get the head out of the sand and start moving their feet rather than just their tongues.  All we can say is ....IT'S ABOUT TIME!!!!!  Until then, give your business to Zap.

We were flipping through the May 2006 issue of Business 2.0 and noticed an advertisment by Philips.  In the ad it mentioned a concept called the Herbarium.  The Herbarium was conceived as part of Philips' Sense and Simplicity vision of "simplicity-led" approach to product designs and innovations back in 2004.

As most RainyDayMagazine readers already know...AeroGrow has a product called the AeroGarden and we have been testing it for almost a month.  We have had at least two salads from our crop of lettuce and hopefully we'll be setting up an herb garden soon.  It is nice when the "future" happens exactly as promised.  We are, however, still waiting for our jet packs...

Think you know how to trick out a Porsche?  Well, check out what the folks at Rinspeed Design did with a Porsche they called the zaZen!  This Porsche is just one of more than a dozen incredible vehicles created by Rinspeed.

The one piece all glass roof is just one the amazing item of this modified Carrera S.  More zaZen photos here.

However, if you think the zaZen is incredible, you will be blown away by the all electric WrightSpeed X1.  The X1 will leave the zaZen smelling its fumes (if it had any).  The X1 seats two and can go from 0 to 60 in 3 seconds!

The X1 is a limited production vehicle with a price tag of about $100K.  However, the exciting part for us is that the idea electric vehicles are slow, boring, and for tree huggers are now banished forever!  The X1 EV can kick serious butt on the track and will slam you against the back of the seat a lot cheaper than the $450K Porsche Carrera GT.


April 25,2006 (TechTuesday-10:28AM)

Since it is TechTuesday, we thought we would push harder on the interns and get them to do more tech reviews than usual.  To compliment the Motorola RAZR reviews, we asked them to take the Plantronics Bluetooth headsets with them and see how well they work with the RAZRs.

Some of the interns thought the Plantronics headphones were a bit too "Star Trekky".  Our response was... " If you would just STOP wearing the black and red mini-shirts and go-go boots, you wouldn't be mistaken for Lt. Uhura".  If you see them around Boston (you can't miss them)...be sure to mess with their heads :-)

The weather in Boston for the past several day have been cloudy and rainy.  It was a good test of charging ability of the solar panels used by Matterinc for its LED House Number.

The solar panels had no problems charging the batteries during the past three cloudy and sometimes rainy days.  The LEDs came on as soon as the sun went down.  We don't know if they stayed on all night...none of the interns were willing to come before sunrise to check.  We even tried enticing them with free donuts...

We took the Soldius Solar Backpack to NYC a few weeks ago.  Here is our FirstUse report of this Soldius backpack. 

Overall, it is a pretty good pack, but there are definitely some additions Soldius could make to this pack to enhance its usability.

Last year we did a review of the Brunton SolarRoll.  Recently we began noticing more and more companies offering "flexible solar panels" based product.  We went in search of the OEM for these panels thinking they would be the potential platform of many interesting RainyDayProjects!

PowerFilm is the company which supplies all of these third parties with the flexible solar sheets.  They come in all sizes and power outputs.  We think the flexible form factor is perfect for all kinds of LED based outdoor projects.  It's going to be a fun summer!

The Motorola RAZR has been popping up everywhere lately.  We wanted to see if it was worth upgrading from our trusty T720 or our newer MPX220 SmartPhone.

Since we were going to look at the RAZR, we thought maybe it was time to check out the cell service as well.  We have been using T-Mobile at RainyDayMagazine for about 5 years now.  However, those snappy Verizon ads with the woman dancing to the "Black Eye Peas" while shopping for clothes really got us humming. 

So we are going to do a head-to-head comparison of not just the phone, but of the two cell services as well.  It'll take us about a week...so check back by next TechTuesday and we should have something more to report.  Can you hear me now?

Some of you have pointed us to Boothe Designs.  Apparently they are the only licensed Porsche Wheel Crest makers in the US.  Go check them out, they have a HUGE selection of Porsche Wheel Centers.

If you do decide to tackle a Porsche Crests Wheel Centers project, make them for yourselves, because you are not allow to sell them.  Ours won't be for sale, so don't send us any emails asking.  However, it did get our creative juices flowing...what other non-proprietary designs could one create using a blank wheel center???  Send us your ideas...if we like any, we'll send you a little token for your efforts!


April 24,2006 (MakeItAtHomeMonday-9:55AM)

It was a rainy weekend in Boston.  Some of the folks were here at the RainyDayKitchen playing with the new coffee gear (i-Roast2 coffee bean roaster, Capresso burr grinder, EspressoPro espresso maker).  It seems the caffeine gave everyone lots of energy.  Not only were there LOTS of photos, but plenty of videos as well! 

We'll let the writers catch up during the day, but here are some videos of the roasting, grinding, and brewing.

The i-Roast2 home roaster was surprisingly easy to use.  The entire process took just 15 minutes. There wasn't really much smoke, but enough to set off the alarm.

Watching the beans change color was pretty cool...and the aroma... delicious! Once the beans cooled, we fed them to the Capresso Burr Grinder for a test run.

We had a blade grinder, but according to the instructions for the EspressoPro, burr grinders give a more consistant grind and don't generate as much "coffee dust"...which could clog the filter.  

Our first cups of espresso were a little thin.  The staff experimented with the fineness setting of the grinder and did a few more shots.  We found that grind setting 2.0 gave the optimal powder for use with the EspressoPro machine.  We were all quite "energized" by the end of our little coffee experiments.

Apparently Dave's little two person protest outside the LA dealership generated quite a vigorous and spirited discussion on PPBB over the weekend.  The guys from the RainyDayGarage decided this was a good time to post the progress (little as it may be) on the Boxster Convertible Top Repair project.

We purchased some replacement plastic (marine grade) to see if we can do our own repairs.  Ideally, we would like to come up with a solution where we can put in a new piece in the future without having to sew it in (velcro, zipper, zip-lock, snaps???).  So far, we have not had any brilliant insights as to an alternative.  If you do, send it to us...we promise you fame and...well, mostly fame, and the gratitude of pre-2003 Boxster owners everywhere :-)


April 21,2006 (FormFunctionFriday-9:30PM)

We were all done for the day and was rummaging around on PPBB when we came upon this entry by Dave R...

Boxster owner Pasha was invited to the opening of the new Porsche dealership in downtown LA.  She has a very amusing entry on her Boxster blog about a little protest happening outside...check it out here.  If you end up having this roof problem, hopefully we can show you how to repair it on your own soon.  It is one of our project at the RainyDayGarage this season.

Hey Dave and Pasha...if you email us your mailing info, we havea Porsche Media Kit for you.  The guys in the RainyDayGarage called their friends in NYC and got you a little something for you from the New York International Auto Show.

We gave our media kit as a prize to somebody last week, but they managed to wrangle two more just because they thought you two deserved it :-)

A while back we stated that Apple would never actively support booting XP on the Mac...whoops :-) 

However, we were correct in stating that Apple wouldn't want to get tangled in providing support for Windows users on the Mac.  Gizmodo had a story today about Expercom.  Apparently, even though Expercom will sell you a Mac with WinXP preloaded, they don't much care to support WinXp neither :-)

If we hadn't been so taken by the Solar LED House Number from Matterinc yesterday, you would have been reading more about coffee today.  Instead, you will have to wait until tomorrow :-)

We had not fired up the new espresso machine yet because we wanted to wait until we got the Capresso Burr Grinder.  The espresso machine had warning about using a blade grinder...too much coffee dust which could cause clogging.  In the meantime, we thought we might as well go all the way and got in a home coffee roaster.  We'll unpack both today and get the entire crew totally wired.  Look for posting well into the night :-) The first reader, who has not won anything in the last 30 days, to correctly name all coffee related companies in the photo above will get a little something from the RainyDayKitchen crew.

Many of you readers with Porsches have sent comments regarding the Porsche Wheel Crest project and asking about purchasing the set we made.  We bought enough to make two sets, thinking we would give one away as a prize here:-) Keep a sharp eye out for the question that may win you this set.

Also, go check out the update on the new silver version using the horse as the center point.

We got a set of Solar LED House Numbers from Matterinc yesterday.  They were so awesome-looking that we dropped what we were doing and installed them right away. 

Go take a closer look at the Solar LED numbers here.  The installation took all of 10 minutes :-)  The weather is supposed to turn rainy this weekend, so we took the rest of the afternoon off and enjoyed the 65º weather. 

We weren't sure if there was enough sunlight to charge up the battery for it to work last night, but apparently there was.   This is one of the best upgrades you can do for your house or office for under $20! 


April 20, 2006 (TunerThursday-9:59AM)

We finished the first part of one of many Spring 2006 RainyDayGarage projects on our plate this morning.  Yesterday, we posted some write-ups on the progress of the Porsche Wheel Crests ProjectOne of the slightly troublesome part of this project was how to properly center the crest on the cap.  We decided to do it a little more precisely than just "eye-balling" it. 

We came up with a way, but if you have a better way...drop us a note.  If we use it, we'll send you a  little something for your efforts.

Today we washed the Boxster and mounted one of the caps to see how it looks on the wheel.

Some of the aftermarket caps protrude when mounted.  We liked the flush look of this cap when mounted.  We still have another spare cap.  We are going to make one with a Silver crest to see which we like better. 

When we have time to surf the web we usually click over to Make: to see if there is anything interesting.  This morning we came upon this great little retro bit about a company called Turbonique Inc.  Fun stuff...jet engines in a car!!!

The New York International Auto Show is still in full swing. Today, we'll show you a few tricked out vehicles from the show.  Customized cars are both on the main floor and out in some of the secondary tents next to the Javits Center.

With three screens in front and a large screen in the rear, this tricked out Toyota Matrix is the ultimate rolling PlayStation2, just make sure you keep one eye on the road while going for the slam dunk.

Out in one of the external tents, Five Axis is showing some of their creations.  They have taken a Scion and gave it a few options not available from the factory.

For those looking for a little more room in their ride, a Hummer is one way to go.  Of course, if the stock wheels are not large enough, Pirelli has 30" tires for your H2.

When you are walking around the show, make sure you find time to check out Davin Wheel's offerings.   They have a huge selection of wheels and are of superior quality.  If you are in the market for some quality wheels, these guys should be on the top of your list.

Gamers were not left out neither.  Subaru has a full 3 screen Gran Tourismo setup with hydraulic platform for true motion gaming experience!

Dodge folks have a projection screen competition racing installation which will let you and you buddies scream around the course in the actual vehicle while going nowhere :-)


April 19, 2006 (WowUsWednesday-2:50PM)

Many of the RainyDayGarage guys are frequent lurkers on the Porsche Pete's Boxster Board.  One of the projects often discussed on PPBB is how to upgrade (paint, add crests, etc...) the factory wheel centers.

We have decided to tackle such a project for Spring.  We purchased a few blank wheel centers from FVD.  We also got some Porsche crests on EBay to add to the wheel center. 

We got enough of everything for two different projects.  One project is to make a set of wheel centers with the crest embedded.  Another project is to create a set where the crest in the center will rotate in such a way that it is always right side up even when the wheels are turning.  If you want to see what we are talking about, check out the video here.

We plan on using our new Dremel Stylus for this project...how?  Check back in a week or so and we'll show ya :-)  As a small incentive to keep you thinking more about this project, we have a little something for the first person who can tell us what is wrong with the picture above.  We may also give a set of these crests away when we are done or we may just put them back on EBay...we'll see.

The temperature in Boston is starting to stay above 45º.  This means it is almost time to change back to summer tires for the Boxster.  We better get going on this project!

Some of you have been asking when are we going to try some of the lettuce from the AeroGarden.  Well, today was our FirstHarvest!

We enjoyed our hydroponically grown lettuce on a whole wheat english muffin with what else...a veggie burger!  Amazingly delicious.

The questions are going to get harder from here on out...mostly because we are running out of stuff from the NY Auto Show :-)  John Colvin beat out C.R Tucker for the win today.  John correctly identified that the Dremel Stylus was in the stand incorrectly. 

John will get this lovely parting gift curtesy of Kelley Blue Book.  Some of us didn't get it at first (it was in our Media goodies bag), but this is a reprint of one of the earliest "Blue Book" published by Kelley Kar Company.  It also came with a bar of chocolate...we ate that a long time ago.  There are some pretty interesting model listing and prices in the book!


April 18, 2006 (TechTuesday-4:08PM)

Yesterday we told you we got the H2OAudio waterproof iPod nano case.  Some staff members here were eagerly awaiting its arrival, and spent the rest of the day playing with it once Santa Bob dropped it off.

We gave the H2OAudio housing a complete once over.  We also took a video of the case taking its first dip.  The H2OAudio iPod case is a rock solid piece of gear.  We are looking forward to taking it out and testing it under(water) more rigorous conditions.

A few weeks ago we got a really cool prototype backpack from Soldius.  We took the pack with us to NYC, and used it to haul stuff around at the NY International Auto Show.

Even though we've already used it, we will post a FirstLook report before we post our FirstUse impressions of this pack later on in the week :-)

If you can tell us where this shot was taken, we'll send you something fun from the New York International Auto Show! 

OK...stop sending us emails asking for more clues :-)  Here is another pic taken at the same spot.  If you can't figure it out, we can't help ya...because that's all the images we have.   All right, a final clue...it's somewhere in NYC!

Apparently, the "Treasured Maps" clue was all John Kim needed to figure out the image above was indeed taken at Bryant Park/NY Public Library!

Mr. Kim will get our copy of the 2006 NY International Auto Show Porsche Press Kit.  This kit has a color booklet and over 150 high rez press images of all 2006 Porsche cars...including the $450,000 Carrera GT.  If John ends up buying one because of us, we'll want a ride!  We'll keep asking questions until we run out of media kits :-)


April 17, 2006 (MarathonMonday-12:14PM)

Today is Patriot's Day here in New England.  It is also the day of the annual Boston Marathon. 

The weather is a cool 53 and cloudy... perfect for running the 26 miles from Hopkinton to the finish line on Boylston Street in Boston.  You can track the results here.

We had a great time at the New York International Auto Show.  We have lots more photos from the show which we'll post in a day or so.

When we got back to the office yesterday, there were a few interesting items on our desk.  Some we had been looking forward to for months!  One such item was the waterproof housing for the iPod nano from h2OAudio.

The H2OAudio nano case came just in time for us to test it out for windsurfing use!  All we have to do now is finish waterproofing our NeurosCAM and we'll be all set for the summer!

BTW...thanks to all those who sent email letting us know that i-Rocks USA site has posted the info on the new IR-8200!

We are giving away one of these awesome iRocks USB 2.0 card reader along with a Neuros 2 MPEG-4 recorder.  More info on how to win it here.


April 15, 2006 (SportsCarsSaturday-5:35PM)

Convertible sports cars were designed for weekends. Some convertible owners like to test their driving skills with them in autocross events. Others like to personalize them and show them off at gatherings. Most are content to find a twisty country road, put the top down to feel the air and the sun on their faces, and just drive.

The new offerings in the convertible sports cars category (Saturn Sky, Pontiac Solstice) are making it easier for many to enjoy top-down driving without breaking the bank.

The Saturn Sky is a roadster with all of its benefits (2 seater, convertible) and its limitations (2 seater, little storage). What it offers is the opportunity to get on the road with just the essentials (a friend, an overnight bag) and enjoy the basics (engine roar, open air, etc...). With the Saturn Sky, you can do all this for around $25K!

The Pontiac Solstice starts at under $20K. It is a beauty that will not look dated if you manage to keep it long enough to pass it on to your kids.

The interior is pure sports car. The dials are easy to read and the controls are all within reach. The shifter is comfortable and short. The entire soft top retracts into the rear and disappears. If you live in Southern California, you may forget this car even has a top!

Pontiac does offer a removable hardtop and some aerodynamic options for those who may have difficulties keeping the rear glued to the pavement. If the gold color is too much, the Solstice also comes in a sunny yellow.

If you want more "ummph" to the Solstice, Mallett will put in a 400HP V8, larger brakes, and tighter handling. All that work will bring the price up closer to $59K.

The Corvette convertible starts that high up on the price ladder. It comes with a 400 horsepower V8 6.0 liter engine. The new Z06 has 505hp from a LS7 7.0-liter engine.

If you don't want to work a stick, Corvette now offers an electronically controlled 6-speed Paddle Shift transmission with three different driving modes - Drive, Sport, and Paddle Shift.

We'll leave you with one last car...Saleen Parnelli Jones Limited Edition Mustang. This car was designed with a lot of input from Parnelli Jones, the famed race car driver. It was unveiled at the NY Auto Show on Thursday.

There will only be 500 of these limited edition Mustangs made by Saleen (a tribute to Jones' 1963 Indy 500 win). Each will be around $55K. It is a fully modern Mustang with lots of touches from the BOSS Mustangs of the '70s (side skirts, 1/4 window, rear wing, sports slats, racing gauges/paddles, and working hood pins).

The retro looking Mustang is a sheep in wolf's clothing. We have a feeling buyers will treat them more like garage queens, but this Mustang is built ready-to-race (Saleen racing suspension, 14" brakes, 302cc normally aspirated engine, 370 HP, 370 ft-lb of torque, 5-speed manual). Each will be individually serial numbered.

NOTE: The numbers on the side are made of static cling vinyl so they can be easily applied or removed as the situation demands :-)

Tomorrow we will move up to the Porsches, the Ferraris, and Astin Martins.


April 14, 2006 (FantasyFriday)

The difference between yesterday's concept cars and today's fantasy cars is that concept cars are not for sale at ANY price. Fantasy cars are available, but if you have to ask how much, you can't afford them :-)

Mecedes Benz is a name known to most. They offer vehicles in a few price categories. At their top end is the McLaren SLR. This car is truely stunning in person. The photos here can not even hope to convey the quality of this car.

The $450K starting price tag should give you an idea of what kind of quality you can expect if you are considering putting one of these in you garage. Just what kind of options ARE there when a car starts at $450K???

Saleen is a company that builds limited edition "muscle cars" for discerning individuals. Some of their hand-tuned cars are affordable, and some will stretch the budget a bit more.

Spyker has a head turning black Spyder that will flatten you against your seat as it goes from 0-60 in 4.5 seconds. It will also set you bank account back about $270K.

BTW, we did manage to track down a Mazda representative who informed us the name of their concept car was called the Kabura.

The Kabura has what Mazda termes a 3+1 interior. The seats fold flat to accommodate a variety of active lifestyle situations (shopping, sports, etc...)

Also, congrats to Trevor Hiller. Yes...it is a Nissan Urge.

Trevor will be getting a copy of the Saab AeroX Media Kit (DVD and collector booklet).

This kit is not available anywhere and it was one of the hottest items given to the media out of all the NYIAS press events!

There are still other unclaimed prizes just waiting for anwers to questions we have strewn about in our ramblings. Careful readers could be handsomely rewarded :-)

Tomorrow we will take a look at some AFFORDABLE sports cars (Saturn Sky, Pontiac Solstice, etc...). We were surprised at how much sports car can be purchased for $20-30K! Here are a few pics to get you excited. There will be more in tomorrow's SportsCarsSaturday edition of RainyDayMagazine.

Of course, if you would like a V8 in your Solstice, Mallett will add that and a few other upgrades for another $30K. It will more than double the price of the car, but you will end up with one SWEET ride!

We are just about done fighting crowds for the day. It is time to head back to the Press room and hit the buffet table! We'll have a more detailed write-up of everything next week when we get back to the office.

The NYIAS runs from April 14th to April 23rd. So if you have a chance to come down to NYC's Jacob Javits Center and check it out, we highly recommend it! One tip...TAKE public transportation. The garages and public parking lots around the Jacob Javits center are charging around $50 for event parking.


April 13, 2006 (TeaserThursday)

Concept cars are the ultimate "teasers" of auto shows and there were quite a few at this year's NYIAS. We will hightlight a few of the ones that caught our eye.

RainyDayGarage had a chance to chat with Anthony Lo (right), Director of Advance Design GM Europe, about the Saab Aero X. This concept vehicle brings together the latest in Saab's research in biofuel, body design, and advance materials.

The Aero X has carbon fiber body panels, a polycarbonate wrap around windshield, and a 100% ethanol burning biofuel engine.

The light weight materials enabled Lo's team to design a mechanism which allows the roof and side panels to "unfold". We'll post some videos of the "unfolding" later.

Nissan also had an interesting 3 seater on the floor. We posted a few pics of it yesterday. Here is a couple more.

The Reflex is Ford's view of the future. Instead of soft leather or foam cushioning, the seats are made of a webbing material like those of the Aeron chairs. In the rear is a "sling" passengers or a child seat.

Rear hinged gull-wing doors provides easy front and rear passenger access...just be sure there is sufficient over head room before opening the doors!

We weren't able to find anyone at Mazda who could tell us anything about this vehicle...including its name, but we post it here because we know you would want to see it :-)


April 12, 2006 (WowUsWednesday)

Today Bentley unveiled their new Convertible GTC to the press. The RainyDayGarage folks, of course, had a front row seat at the event! Not that we had that kind of clout, but we were over at the Nissan Press lunch and decided we were too full to go anywhere after. So we camped out in front of the rope line for 20 minutes.

Here are a few videos of the Continental GTC. If you are at a lost for a birthday present for your significant other, this may just be what you have been searching for. The new GTC has 552 horses under the hood, tops out at 195 mph with the top up and 190 with the top down.


The RainyDayGarage folks are reporting live from the Jacob Javits...so if there are things you want them to check out, just drop us a note!

Porsche has all of their new models on the floor (Cayman, Cayenne, BoxsterS, and the Carrera GT).

We have not been able to locate the 997 yet, but as soon as we can get one of the Porsche folks to actually acknowleged us, we'll ask :-)

Who can tell us what this cool 3-seater is? First one to give us the name and the company gets a little something in the mail!


April 11, 2006 (TechTuesday)

Some of the RainyDayGarage folks are heading to NYC for the New York International Auto Show.  We asked them to take some of the new gear we just got in and see how they perform on the road.

The first item on the list is a prototype solar cell equiped backpack from Soldius.  Soldius is best known for their Soldius 1 solar cell charger for the iPod. 

The SolarBackpack is one of their new series of solar cell integrated products scheduled to be released later in the year.  The folks here love the idea of being able to top off the batteries of their digital gear while walking around town.  They'll see how well it works while strolling around NYC.  We've also asked them to go check out the new Apple Store that is being constucted in midtown.

The other device they will be taking with them is the Saitek wireless headphones.  These headphones is supposed to last for about 6 hours on a full charge. We were surprised at the small size of the transmitter module and the lightness of the headphones. 

The tech specs are impressive (Neodymium speaker drivers, LiPol batteries, 10 meter range).  Of course, the proof is going to be in how they sound. 

Unfortunately, we won't be able to use the Soldius backpack to charge the iPod or the headphones on this trip.  We ordered the tips for charging the iPod, but they won't make it in time for the trip.  We may also have to make some special tips so we can charge other devces not supported by Soldius.


April 10, 2006 (MochachinoMonday)

We RainyDayKitchen folks are not strangers to coffee making devices.  There is a pretty good collection of French Presses, drip filters, and pod brewers in our collection.

However, when one of our readers asked us about the AeroPress, we were stumped.  We had never heard of it.  A quick Google search revealed that the AeroPress is from the company that invented the Aerobie flying ring...which we have heard of.

Can a company who invented one of the longest human-thrown objects create something that will make a great cup of coffee? Read RainyDayKitchen's AeroPress review and find out!

For the past six months, we have been reviewing various pod-based (SimpleHuman, Tassimo, Keurig) coffee and espresso makers.  These machines have their advantages, especially for a home or office where not everyone wants the same thing.

We have been impressed with the wide variety of available flavors and drink options available for these units.  All of these machines worked as advertised and we use them around the office all the time.

For the next six months, the RainyDayKitchen folks are going to take a look at a new category of coffee machines...home machines with professional grade features.  These machines may require a little bit more work (grinding the beans, cleaning, etc...), but the promise is a level of flavor and intensity not available from pod based brewers.

The first machine on the list is the Capresso EspressoPRO.  This machine is designed for the coffee drinker that wants quality, convenience, but is not willing to compromise on taste. 

We just got the machine on Friday, so it will take us a few days before we can give you our impressions, but rest assured...it will be thoroughly tested.  I have a feeling the folks here will be VERY awake all week long :-)


April 8, 2006 (WeekendEdition)

Two indicator lights came on today (Add Water, Add Nutrients).  This was the first time in 2 weeks we had to do any type of maintenance on the AeroGarden.

We replaced about a quart of water and added two nutrient tablets to the tank.  When we opened the tank, we also noticed the roots have reached out of the pods and have grown quite long!  This may explain the faster growth rate we have been seeing the past few days.


April 7, 2006 (FitnessFriday)

Getting on a weight scale is intimidating enough for a lot of people.  Some don't WANT to know their "% body fat".  Others would rather step on a rattlesnake then on a "talking scale". 

We did manage to find a few brave souls who were willing to step up and on these fine machines (WeightWatchers WW71, Phoenix TBF440, Soehnle Rio) to show that "it is just a number" and knowing your "% body fat" is the first step to a better and healthier body. 

We'll have more to say about the "% body fat", BMI, and other calculations from these scales soon. 

Most of us don't get enough water in a typical day.  However, it is even more important to stay properly hydrated when exercising.  One way to make sure we drink enough water is to carry it around with us.  A good way to do that is to get a quality water bottle.

Nalgene, long known for it high quality laboratory containers, has been expanding its product lines to serve the outdoor and fitness market.  In our upcoming SpringOuting, we'll be taking some of these with us on our Boston City Hike.  We'll report back on them at the end of April.

Two weeks have passed since we flipped the switch and started the AeroGarden.  The progress has exceeded our expectations! 

The RainyDayKitchen folks have started naming the individual pods.  I hope it won't be an issue come harvest time!  I think there is even a pool going as to which pod will grow the fastest.


April 6, 2006 (MusicTechThursday)

Carbon fiber is amazing stuff.  It is stiffer than steel, really light weight, and has a look all its own.  It was just a matter of time before someone made a cool iPod case out of the stuff.

C6 Manufacturing came up with a design that is both attractive, protective, and functional.  We got one for our nano.  They also make one for the Video iPod.  Read the full RainyDayMagazine review here.

Another cool iPod nano case is the iSkin Duo.  The Duo comes in a variety of colors.  The case is made of five pieces: outer sleeve, inner skin, wheel shield, screen shield, and clip. 

There is a lot to this wetsuit-like case.  With two rubber layers and shields, it offers quite a bit of protection for its size.  Go check out the full RainyDayMagazine review here.

Here is an update on the Neuros2 Giveaway:  To make it easier to move the recorded content around, we have added the IR-8200 Flash card reader from i-Rocks to the prize package!  i-Rocks are the folks that make the really cool illuminated keyboard we reviewed in January.

The IR-8200 is brand new...it is not even up on the i-Rocks site yet.  We'll have more info about the card reader soon.  Keep an eye out for the link in the next few days.  There may be something for the first one to spot it :-)

UPDATE:  Please note the following change...the first reader to send us the URL from i-Rocks with info on the IR-8200 will get a little something in the mail.  This is so WE don't have to keep checking the i-Rocks site because it really cuts into our nap time:-)


April 5, 2006 (WowUsWednesday)

It is OK to waste time once in a while.  If you have some time to spare, click on over to this site and check out the fun optical illusions Vurdlak has assembled.

He has them categorized (Optical, Objects, Outdoor, etc...) and titled.  Some are classics (lines, eschers, etc...) and others, like the sidewalk painting below, are recent.

If you have the time, the talent, and the spare parts...you can spend your "rainydays" making some "spare parts sculptures".  If you do, send us a pic of your creation.  We just might send you a little something for your efforts!  Hmmm...we have lots of parts here and it might snow here today.  We may let the interns have some fun and see what they can come up with.

If you have the time but not the other two requirements, you can still get inspired by Ann Smith and her whimsical works.  Go check out her site and some of Ann's other creations here.


April 4, 2006 (CraftTechTuesday)

There are a few ways to etch glass.  One way is to use a diamond or a Dremel Stylus with a carbide bit.  You would also need a steady hand and an artistic eye. 

Another way is to use a chemical and a patterned mask.  We found a kit called Armour Etch which has everything needed to get started.  Both approaches have their advantages and problems.  Go check out our FirstLook at the Armour Etch.  Today is a rainy day in Boston, so the interns will be inside.  We'll send them off (with eye protection) to see just how easy it is to use both the Dremel and the Armour Etch to do some basic glass etching.

Cutting glass is whole different story.  Straight breaks are easy, but curved cuts are much more difficult...especially inside curves.  The two ways we know how to do it is to either cut it out or grind it out.  We used both methods to create the nautilus pattern below.

The Gryphon Diamond saw was used to cut the rough shapes and the Diamond Star grinder was used for the final finish.  We'll have more on both machines in future articles.


April 3, 2006 (MeasureItMonday)

We set out clocks forward this past Saturday... so Spring is definitely around the corner.  It also meant that it is time to shed that Winter layer of insulation we have all been gracefully carrying around for the past three months.  The folks in our RainyDaySports group have round up a few devices to help everybody in the RainyDayMagazine office get into "Beach Blanket Bingo" shape!

The only way to track progress is to measure it.  The only way to measure is with precision instruments.  These are not your father's bathroom scales.  The three scales (WeightWatchers WW71, Soehnle Rio, Phoenix TBF440) we will be testing in April does much more than just measure weight.  They will compute % body fat, calculate the BMI, and a host of other body fitness related information.

Another interesting device we'll be taking a look at is the BioTrainer from BioTrainer Weight Loss System. 

This piece of gear is NOT a pedometer.  It is designed to measure physical activity and compute the calories burned from all your body movements.

Getting fit is more than just increase the metabolism and losing body fat.  It is also about getting more flexible, both to reduce possible injury and to strengthen the "core".  There is nothing better for increasing both strength and flexibility than yoga.

To do yoga safely, it is important to have the proper gear.  Yogitoes is a company which is at the forefront of innovative yoga gear.  Go check out the Melissa's RainyDaySports review of Yogitoes here.

To keep us warm during our outdoor activities in the Spring, we looked to a small but incredibly innovative sportswear company called Beyond Fleece.

Buyers can custom design a jacket on BeyondFleece's site with the exact fit and features they want.  The process is simple and the results are amazing.  We'll tell you all about it later this month.


April 2, 2006 (WeekendEdition)

Many of you have written to us about the NeurosCAM project.  Some also have great ideas about other uses for the Neuros 2 Digital MPEG-4 recorder.

Well, here is your chance to get a Neuros2 of your very own!  All you have to do is send in a the most interesting, creative, or unique use for one... as judged by our crack group of interns.  If different folks send in the same or substantially similar brilliant idea, the one with the earliest email time-stamp wins. BTW, bribing the editor is entirely acceptible, but unlikely to help.

Why are we doing this?  We like the Neuros folks.  Also, we might want to use some of those ideas for future projects because the new crop of ideas from our interns (yes... the same group that will be judging the entries) are pretty lame.  So, if you think you'll get rich with your idea, don't send it to us...go get rich and buy one with the money.  If you don't mind us possibly using your idea for fun, then send it in.

We'll announce the winner and the winning entry at the end of April.  If we get a lot of good ones, we might give out some second and third place prizes as well.  If where you live doesn't allow you to win FREE stuff, then you can't enter... and you really should move.  The winner is responsible for complying with any rules and regulations on their end in regards to getting stuff for FREE.


April 1, 2006 (WeekendEdition)

If you have a pod based coffee system at work, most likely it would be a Keurig machine.  Keurig also make machines designed for small office and home use... like this Ultra B-50 Premium Coffee System.

The machine itself is extremely simple to operate.  There is a lever, a drip tray, the water container, and a few buttons.  We really like the pod holder design.  Clean and efficient.  The two depression on the side gives easy access for pod insertion and removal.

We think this machine is perfect for the small office or home, especially if you have folks that may want different flavors of coffee, don't want the hassle of cleaning up, but demand great taste in each cup.

We got tired of building our MediaCenter so we splurged and got us one of the new iZilla Digital Media Monster from ThinkGeek.

This product was announced today, but we got it yesterday. Transferring music and videos to the iZilla was fast and easy.  However, it was missing the ability to surf the web.  We were able to add web browsing capabilities to it last night by wedging the new dual core Mac mini motherboard into the back of the case.  We were surprised at how roomy it is back there!  

We would post the "How-to" on this hack if not for the carelessness of our new intern.  She was not familiar with the digital camera and took all of the photos without a flash card in the camera.  Major bummer!!! We may make another one... probably next year.  This one is up for sale if anyone is interested :-)  If you can tell us the song that was on the iPod when we took the product shot... we'll send the modified iZilla to you for FREE!

BTW, Andrew P was the first to correct identify ALL three items in the question posed last Saturday (Soda Club Machine, Soda Club bottle, and the Waring Blender).  Everybody else missed on the Soda Club bottle.  Andrew will be getting a little something in the mail.


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